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Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber ready to fight for VISIT FLORIDA

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

For beaches in the Tampa Bay region, tourism matters.

That’s why the Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce is getting ready to fight, calling its members Tuesday to push back against proposed legislation to shut down VISIT FLORIDA, the state’s tourism arm.

Last week, House leadership introduced committee bill (PCB CCS 17-01) to kill both VISIT FLORIDA and Enterprise Florida, the state’s job incentive program.

As part of the $83.5 billion “Fighting for Florida’s Future” budget for 2017-18, Gov. Rick Scott is proposing $76 million for Visit Florida, the agency tasked with marketing Florida to domestic and international visitors. Nevertheless, House leaders have threatened to pull funding after some questionable deals with racing car teams, British soccer teams and Miami-based pop star Pitbull.

But the Chamber sees VISIT FLORIDA as a vital tool to bring tourists to region’s beaches.

“VISIT FLORIDA is essential in bringing visitors to our state who generate 23 percent of our sales tax revenue, create over 1.4 million jobs, support small business and boost our local economy with $108.8 billion in economic impact,” the Chamber statement says. “It is critical to renew the focus on the value of marketing the Sunshine State.”

The Chamber wants all industry members to contact legislators and “remind them of the benefits tourism generates and how VISIT FLORIDA helps small businesses and communities reach new markets that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to capitalize on.”

The House Careers & Competition Subcommittee is set to take up the bill Wednesday at 1 p.m. in the State Capitol, Knott Building, Room 212.

For further steps to help save VISIT FLORIDA – with letter templates, talking points and contact information — is at


Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.

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